Tuesday, April 12, 2016

At this Bengaluru store, the customer is a trusted king

A small refrigerator containing sachets of idli/dosa batter, wheat chapatis and Malabar parottas stands in the lobby of the Bharat Golf View Apartments, Old Airport Road. A customer opens the door and picks up a sachet, and drops cash into a small box attached to the door. No salesman, shopkeeper or camera eye to check who put in how much. Or didn't. The stall runs solely on trust. PC Mustafa, founder of iD Foods, is peddling a new concept, the Trust Shop. Over the past month, he has set up 17 such shops across the city. A fridge with his company's products -- popular breakfast and lunch options across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala -- is stationed in a public place, completely unmonitored. The Trust Shop operates in 12 residential locations and five KPMG branch offices. The idea is to trust consumers completely. "When we went to apartment associations with this concept, there was scepticism and disbelief. But post installation, residents have taken to it and given us positive feedback on how the Trust Shop is a reminder of a value that seems to have been lost in today's world. It's also convenient since they have 24x7 access to fresh food," said Mustafa, CEO, iD Fresh Foods. There are no salesmen or cash machines, only a piggy bank of sorts, where residents can drop off the cost of the product they wish to buy. Residents don't need to pay immediately, but can pay in part, as it suits them. The stock is replenished every day, and is considered extremely convenient by working professionals. "My wife and I spend long hours at work and on the way home, we decide what needs to be prepared for dinner. We're thrilled with this fridge in our apartment complex because the products are available even when regular shops are closed," said Rahul Gadre, a resident of Bharat Golf View Apartment. "Our building security guard asked me, 'Madam, agar koi baahar se aake item le jaayega toh kya karenge? (if someone from outside takes something, what should I do?)'. I said if someone does take away an item without paying, nothing could be done," said Anjali Bhate, a resident. "But the fact that consumers can be trusted is just great." Mustafa said, "Most consumers pay for what they pick up. In some apartments, collection is as high as 90% and on some days, it is over 100%. Some associations have taken it up as a challenge to ensure 100% payment. It is such a positive feeling within the apartment community and in the iD team." With the pilot project achieving success in Bengaluru, the company will now expand the initiative to Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai. The Honesty Shop, London The Honesty Shop was set up by David Waterhouse on board a double decker parked near the Tower Of London. It sold seasonal products and small practical things for the house, with most things priced under £20. The bus was unattended, save for a 'conductor' who was at hand to help out customers. When he launched it, Waterhouse was told he was mad, but claims the bus has not been attracted too many shoplifters.

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